By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family
Holiday Stress

Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas usually mean getting together with family. It’s part of what makes the holidays special. But, it can also be stressful. Sometimes family relationships are strained, adding anxiety to the mix. What makes this worse? How can you cope with stress within your family, especially during the holidays? Part of it will depend on personality. What’s your personality type? Are you typically: Laid back, able to roll with whatever comes at you? Uncomfortable with changes in your life, even positive changes? Quick to see what could go wrong, and able to find solutions to those problems? Always able to keep a positive outlook, even if that sometimes means avoiding the possibility that something could go wrong? Prone to depression or anxiety, Read more…

survive the holidays

Surviving the holidays can be difficult when you or someone you love is literally trying to survive the holidays. This almost always means the celebration will look different. I’ve put together a few thoughts and tips to give you a leg up. To survive the holidays you must first accept that things will be different. You won’t be participating in the cookie exchange or Christmas caroling. Things that were once fun, are in this new reality, exhausting. Even if you do have the energy to do them, they may zap your reserves so that you’re left burned out. One of the best things you can do is to recognize that the holidays will look different this year—maybe from now on. That’s okay. Change is a Read more…

Every October I try to predict peak color in the deciduous trees. Then I head off to the woods in St. Francis, Minnesota to spend a few days at Pacem in Terris (Latin for “Peace on Earth”). This year, I went at the perfect time. Taking a break is something everyone should do. Sometimes you may need it more than others. I found that the harder it is to make time in your schedule, the more important taking a break is. Get beyond the guilt of taking a break. This can be hard for caregivers. You spend all of your time trying to maintain control. Walking away for a few days means giving up the reigns to someone else. You may worry about how your family Read more…

Facing Cancer with Grace

How do you respond when someone you know tells you they’re facing cancer? So often, people feel at a loss for words. How can you make a difference at such a difficult time in your friend’s life? You don’t have to feel helpless. Facing Cancer as a Friend will show you what to say (and what not to say). You’ll learn how to use your gifts and strengths to support your friend when they need it most. Updated and Revised Edition! I’m pleased to announce that the updated and revised edition of Facing Cancer as a Friend is now available. It has improved formatting along with the encouraging content that has made this book such a hit. If you haven’t gotten a copy already, now is Read more…

Supportive Connections

What is resilience? It’s the ability to bounce when we come up against something tough, like cancer. Will we bounce like a rubber ball, or like a tomato? I learned a lot about resilience at the 2018 Breath of Hope Lung Foundation’s Lung Cancer Summit. Perhaps my greatest takeaways came from a talk delivered by Dr. Jeffery Kendall. PsyD, LP.[1] Dr. Kendall delivered a keynote address entitled, Resilience and Hope for Survivors & Caregivers. In the next few weeks, I am going to share a few of the things I learned from this inspiring message. I’ll start today by touching on the first key ingredient to a resilient life: supportive connections. The impact of supportive connections on cancer survivors and caregivers can’t be overlooked. Yet Read more…

caregiver team

It’s that time of year: NFL Draft Pick!  As a caregiver, you need to have a strong team on your side. While the NFL is choosing their overpaid players, you need to choose who you can count on to be on your caregiver team to help you get through the tough road ahead. The Caregiver is the Quarterback You call all of the plays. If something takes you out of the game, the team often falls apart. So, you need a strong support system behind you. Rather than equate the rest of the team to actual football positions, I will just label them as the positions they play on the caregiver team (Because I really don’t know much about football). Your Medical Team Your medical Read more…

Overwhelming Sadness

At some point, we will all experience it. It’s likely that most of us already have: Overwhelming sadness. How do you deal with it?

Grief in Children

Everyone will experience grief at some time in their life. It’s important to recognize that children grieve, as well. grief in children is often overlooked and misunderstood. Today we will look at grief in children and how we can help them to heal after a loss. “You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including the loss of a relationship, your health, your job, or a cherished dream.” (Help Pages.org Grief and Loss) Most people think that grief is something that they’ll deal with when someone they love dies. In truth, the process of grieving begins at the moment you realize you of a loved one has cancer. This is a huge shift in your life Read more…

get better sleep

It’s common for cancer patients and their caregivers to have trouble sleeping. These disruptions crop up early on as scanxiety rears it’s ugly head and pain from cancer or side effects from its treatment interfere with your sleep. Today, guest blogger Amanda Lassater will be sharing tips for how you can get better sleep this year. Sleep is an essential ingredient to any person’s healthy routine. Those who fail to get enough rest on a nightly basis have been shown to suffer from diminished cognitive skills, less ability to focus and concentrate, and are more prone to irritability and agitation. Proper sleep becomes even more critical when complicated by such things as disease or serious illness, as we will explore further: Why is Sleep so Read more…

mesothelioma advocate

As an advocate for cancer patients and their families, I daily hear from people facing cancer. Recently, a gentleman named Virgil wrote to me about his experience, Doctors recently diagnosed Virgil with mesothelioma. This diagnosis turned Virgil’s life upside down. What is Mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that forms in the thin protective tissues which cover the lungs and the abdomen. Exposure to asbestos causes cancer in the mesothelium tissues. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals that are fibrous in nature and functions well as a fire retardant. It was once a commonly used insulator. Now that the dangers of asbestos are well known, it has fallen out of use. It can still be found Read more…

Faith and Cancer

Your children are developing their own sense of self, and their own personal faith. When a parent has cancer, their faith often goes through a period of questioning. How could God allow their mom or dad to have cancer? Where is God in all of this? Is God punishing them? We are often confronted with the question of why bad things happen to good people. People believe many different answers to this question, even within the Christian faith. Faith, itself is born out of questions. In the Bible, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Questions are a matter of not being able to see the end of the tunnel. Faith is what keeps you Read more…

caught off guard by cancer

How can you avoid being caught off guard by cancer? No one expects to be diagnosed with cancer. But there are ways to lower your risk. You can also arm yourself with information on how to handle a crisis like cancer so that if you or a loved one does face this disease, you don’t feel completely powerless. Cancer is a lot like a C-Section When I was pregnant with my daughter, Summer, I ate up every prenatal class with all of the excitement and anticipation you would expect from someone expecting their first child. I was determined to do everything right. So, I paid close attention as the instructor gave each new lesson, even when they taught us the breathing technique that you always see Read more…

Good Nutrition

Getting good nutrition can be difficult when you have cancer, both because of the disease and side effects of the treatment. There are some things you can do to overcome this obstacle to your healing. Cancer can make good nutrition more difficult Patients with head and neck cancer often have malnutrition before they start treatment. This is due to pain and trouble swallowing, swelling, and bleeding. Often a patient needs to consider a feeding tube as a temporary way of receiving the nutrients they need during their treatment.  Eating softer foods is important when you have cancer of the head and neck. The pancreas makes an enzyme which helps break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This enzyme aids digestion and helps to neutralize stomach acid Read more…

Prostate Cancer

In honor of Men’s Health Week June 11-17, I am writing about Prostate Cancer. We hear a lot about women’s health issues. Unfortunately, the life expectancy gender gap has been growing. This is the number of years one gender is expected to live beyond the other. In 1920, the life expectancy gender gap was only 1 year. By 2014, men were dying almost 5 years sooner than women. Why the Gap? Men’s Health Library lists the following as some of the reasons for this gap in life expectancy: Men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death and are the victims of over 92% of workplace deaths. A higher percentage of men have no healthcare coverage. Men make ½ as Read more…

Oncology Care Teams

When someone is being treated for cancer, they will work with a team of medical professionals in the oncology department. This team approach ensures you get the best medical care possible. Who are some of the people on a care team? Receptionist/Appointment Specialist This will be the first person you talk to at the cancer center. They take your insurance information as well as your co-pay. When your appointment is done, they will make upcoming appointments that your doctor has ordered. These may include lab work, imaging, and future oncology appointments. Lab Technician The lab technician will take your blood, or urine and run any necessary tests on it.  If they are taking blood, they may access your port to do this. The results let Read more…

Targeted Treatments

Not that long ago, cancer treatments were synonymous with losing your hair and suffering from nausea and vomiting. Now with the advancements in cancer research, it’s not uncommon for patients to go complete a treatment regimen without either of these issues.  One of these advancements is targeted therapy, also called targeted treatments. Targeted treatments “target” specific genes or proteins found in cancer cells These genes and proteins are related to cancer growth. Many different types of cells make up the tissues in your body, from your bones to your skin. Cancer cells are created when specific genes in healthy cells mutate or change. To learn more about how cancer cells are made, check out my post on cancer cells. Our Story When Dan’s oncologist first Read more…

A-Z Blogging

The 2019 A to Z Blogging Challenge didn’t go as expected for me.  spent the months of January and February writing posts for both, Facing Cancer with Grace and Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker. I scheduled them to publish automatically, as I have done in past years, planning to use April to comment on other A to Z bloggers’ posts. In past years, this has been extremely helpful. This year A to Z would take a back seat. In March, my husband’s cancer took a dramatic turn for the worse. By the end of March, after repeated visits to the hospital, including a couple of extended visits, he returned home to begin in-home hospice. That month was so intense. There wasn’t a minute that went unaccounted for. Read more…

Neuropathy

Neuropathy is a set of symptoms affecting the nervous system. Peripheral neuropathy affects your nerves, or those on the periphery of your body: Skin, fingers, toes, etc. Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is when these symptoms are the result of chemotherapy. Symptoms of Neuropathy Numbness Pain This may be constant, or it may come and go like a sharp, shooting/stabbing pain. Tingling, pins, and needles or electric shock type pain. Muscle cramps Muscle fatigue Burning sensation Lack of dexterity, trouble buttoning shirt etc. Problems with balance Sensitivity to cold/heat Trouble swallowing Blood Pressure changes Decrease in reflexes Symptoms tend to start farthest away from your head (toes and feet) and move closer to your head over time. They are usually bilateral, affecting both sides of the body Read more…

Helping Someone in Crisis

You likely know someone whose world has been turned upside down by a life-altering diagnosis such as cancer.  If you don’t, unfortunately, you will. You want to be able to help someone in crisis, but, how?. When my husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, we experienced the good the bad and the ugly when it came to the way people gave us support. Some people with good intentions ultimately caused us a lot of pain. We also had friends and family who did things that made an amazing difference. How do you help someone in crisis? Since you’re reading this, I am sure that you want to be a blessing to the people in your life who are going through the Read more…

palliative care specialist

Have you ever talked with a palliative care specialist? Do you know what they do, or how they could help you with your cancer treatment? What a palliative care specialist does “Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness-whatever the diagnosis. “The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be Read more…

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